Souping Your Way to Good Health and Weight Loss
Few categories of food are as versatile, universally loved, and as easy a vehicle for flavor and nutrition as soup. From simple chicken noodle to complex Thai favorites, soup can also be a great way to get a bunch of vegetables into our families’ diet without drawing attention to them. Because of its liquid component, soup can be filling and (depending on the ingredients) low-calorie and low-fat – two things that are excellent for supporting your weight loss goals. And, on a cold day, there are few things more soothing than a warm bowl of soup. It’s pretty satisfying in the summer, too: gazpachos and chilled melon soup – surprisingly refreshing accompaniments to a grilled meal!
One of the great things about soup is that it can be made ahead of time (which is a perk for busy families), and, for most soups, the flavors intensify and become even better after a day or two.
So, you may be thinking that you don’t know the first thing about making soup and would rather buy the canned stuff. But you’ll be taking in tons of sodium and other ingredients that just aren’t going to be as beneficial to your health or the the scale compared to the good ol’ homemade version. We promise it’s not complicated—plus, the flavor and variety you get from homemade soup will be worth the little bit of effort. So, give it a try! Below are some of our favorites:
Bean and legume soups are chock-full of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and folate—all nutrients important for heart health. They’re filling and make a great accompaniment to salad for dinner or on their own for lunch. This lentil soup and easy bean soup recipe are quick, and tasty. If you don’t have lentils on hand, this same recipe can work with any canned bean—just rinse them well to get rid of excess sodium. Rinsing can beans can reduce sodium up to 40 percent.
Orange colored soup from sweet potato or carrots gets its color from its nutrients—it has TONS of vitamin A. Vitamin A which promotes eye health and is a major antioxidant that helps to shield cells from damaging free radicals. Check out this sweet potato carrot soup and sweet potato chicken stew. We especially like the sweet potato soup with a side of roasted cauliflower…the flavor combination is delicious.
Sometimes we find a bunch of kale in the fridge that isn’t as crisp and fresh as when we first brought it home. We just never got around to making that super salad we had been meaning to make all week. Limp or slightly old vegetables are perfect to throw into soup—you really won’t be able to tell the difference when you toss them in a soup. If you have pre-washed veggies with an expiration date quickly approaching, put them in the freezer to use in soup later. And kale is still riding the waves of popularity, with good reason: it’s loaded with vitamins A and C and is a great source of fiber, iron, and calcium. Pair it with a good quality sausage, and your family will be asking for seconds! Check out this tasty kale and sausage soup and potato kale soup.
Pumpkin and Butternut squash
In the fall, hold onto the remnants of the pumpkin that you scraped away when you were helping the kids make jack o’lanterns. And keep those seeds, too! This Pumpkin apple soup with creamy goat cheese takes the bounty that’s available in the fall and makes a delicious soup that the whole family will enjoy. It tastes (and smells) autumn in a bowl. Don’t miss out on a traditional favorite, butternut squash soup made with fall’s honey crisp apples –yum!
Once you get the basics of making soup, you can expand your repertoire to soups that include white beans, pasta, fish, mushrooms, and a host of other ingredients that go beyond the basics, using whatever’s available at the farmer’s market or, truthfully, whatever happens to be in your fridge!
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